I was amazed at how little I knew about dealing with winter weather when I moved up to northern Minnesota at the spry age of 18.

I was an angsty teen that couldn't be bothered with useful information from my parents about living in the coldest climate imaginable. They couldn't tell me anything. I didn't need a coat. I didn't need boots. I knew it all. I wouldn't be cold. I'm from Lubbock, Texas. I'm tough.

Oh, the lies we tell ourselves.

One morning I woke up really early to head to work to get a paycheck I had been waiting on for what felt like an eternity. My old crappy Mustang, held together by tape and zip ties, was completely on E and I didn't have two pennies to rub together. I decided that I would chance it, and drive my car on fumes to get my money.

Bad, bad idea.

First of all, I left my house in a pair of pajama pants, houseshoes, and a cheap, paper-thin, Walmart zip-up hoodie. I didn't heat my car up ahead of time because I was afraid to run out of gas, so I took off out of my driveway, in a snowstorm, in -40 degree weather.

I was so stupid when I was 18, that after years of hearing my parents tell me not to run the air conditioner constantly during hot summer months because it was wasting gas, that I assumed the heater wasted your gas too. I elected to not turn the heater on. Period.

Dumbass of the day s#%& right there.

By the time I made it to pick up my glorious paycheck, likely worth a whopping $300, I was so cold I could barely get out of the car to go in and get it. I greeted my boss and tried to pretend like I wasn't completely flat broke waiting on that check for days, full of anxiety, like a Tech student waiting on the results of their STD test.

I got back in the car and hoped that I would somehow be able to make it to the bank to cash my check and then to a gas station. I worked at a facility that was in the middle of the woods, roughly 8 miles from the closest gas station, but unfortunately 15 miles from my bank. Fifteen miles was just a bit too far.

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I ran out of gas with no businesses or houses anywhere for miles, on a road in the middle of the woods. I didn't know what to do. I was brand new to living in Minnesota and I didn't have very many friends to call in an emergency. I called every single person I knew, but unfortunately, nobody answered. My pals were likely still asleep from a night of drinking, or maybe they just wanted me to freeze to death. I dunno. I'm still salty about it.

I noticed I could not feel my toes or my nose or my fingers and I started to panic. I didn't have a single thing in the car that would help me. No blankets. No hand warmers. Nothing. I had nothing and was as unprepared as you could possibly be.

I called 9-1-1. I didn't know what else to do. I figured they would send someone out to help me. They did not. They actually told me 'I'm sorry, we don't bring people gas. We can send you a tow truck but it will take about 45 minutes to an hour.'

It was so damn cold my boogers were icicles in my nose, freezing to my face as I sat in my car sobbing. Remember, I did not use my heater this entire journey. At this point, I was stuck in a car that was as cold as it was outside. A horrific -40 degrees.

I called my dad in Texas, not to ask for help, but to tell him I was probably going to die and that I loved him. He absolutely freaked out, hung up, and called the police department, and started yelling at them to send someone to help me. He called me back to tell me someone would be coming soon.

They did not come.

The tow truck was nowhere to be seen.

At this point, I had called my roommate roughly 50 times, just trying to wake him up to come and pick me up. I noticed that my battery was dying on my phone and I had no charger in my car. Again, I was reminded of just how stupid I was.

I sat there crying to the point I was nearly hyperventilating. I had never been that cold before in my life. I was too afraid to get out of the car and start walking because I was already so cold and I knew my panda bear slippers wouldn't help the situation if I started to trek through four feet of snow to find help. I crossed my fingers they would be there soon.

Two hours went by without hearing from anyone at all. No tow truck. No police dispatch. Nobody. I honestly thought I was going to die.

Suddenly, my phone vibrated. It was my roommate. He knew exactly the spot I was in and headed over to pick me up, having no idea just how bad my morning at been. I was so embarrassed at myself for getting into such a horrible mess that I really didn't explain to him exactly how much physical pain I was in, all over my body. I really needed to get inside somewhere warm, fast, but instead, I told him to take me to cash my check.

I walked into the bank, with my teeth chattering, cashed my check, and hurried back to his car. We went to a gas station and, as much as I wanted to ask him if he would fill up the red gas can for me, my pride told me I was just fine, and I spent another five minutes outside standing in the cold, wondering whether or not I actually had toes at all.

He took me back to my car, which was covered in a new layer of snow, and just as cold, if not colder than it was when I left it. I spent another grueling 10 minutes just trying to open the gas can with fingers that felt like they didn't exist. Then, I put gas in my car and started clearing the snow off it. My roommate was probably already home and getting back in bed by the time I started the car.

I was finally home, for a grand total of roughly four hours in pajamas at a temperature of only -40 degrees. I didn't even have socks on under my house shoes, or underwear, or a bra for that matter, and it took roughly 24 hours until I actually felt warm again. It felt like I was walking on literal glass for hours. I turned the shower up as hot as it would go and shivered violently, unable to feel the heat at all. I actually scalded my body with the water and didn't realize until later that I had burned myself.

Needless to say, I made it, in spite of how stupid I was. It could have gone much, much worse. I'll leave you lovely readers with a small list of things to keep in your trunk during winter weather that will help you avoid what happened to me:

  • Warm blanket
  • Spare phone and charging cord (even if it isn't active, it can still reach 911)
  • 10 dollar bill (hide it in your car somewhere and forget about it, you'll remember it is there when you are desperate)
  • Gloves, boots
  • Ice scraper
  • Hand warmers (the kind you shake to activate)
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks (you never know how long you could be stuck)

Don't be like me. Prepare yourself and your kids for all weather types, even if you live somewhere that is typically warm.

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